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impose curfew in Harare
Chimhete & Valentine Maponga, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
February 25, 2007
have imposed an illegal curfew in Harareís high-density areas as
State-sponsored repression mounts in the face of public outrage
at the denial of democratic space to voices opposed to the government,
The Standardís investigations have confirmed.
curfew comes as it emerged last week that the three-month police
ban on political rallies and demonstrations was illegal as it
exceeds the one-month limit prescribed by the draconian Public
Order and Security Act (Posa).
police last week banned all political rallies and demonstrations
in Harare and Chitungwiza on the pretext they could degenerate into
week, the police forcibly dispersed an MDC rally, resulting in scores
of people being injured.
Friday, police again barred Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of
the anti-Senate Movement for Democratic Change faction, from holding
a rally in Bulawayo.
intended to launch his 2008 Presidential election campaign.
armed police, wielding guns, batons, shields, teargas canisters,
on foot and in armoured trucks, supported by Israeli- imported anti-riot
water cannons, barricaded the venue and barred Tsvangirai from entering
police action affected the operations of the Bulawayo City Council
as workers were forced to knock off earlier than usual after police
denied residents entrance to the council premises.
said in future his faction would not seek police clearance for their
rallies. He echoed the position taken the National
Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwe
National Students Union who vowed to ignore the ban.
the police told the opposition United Peopleís Party (UPP) their
inter-district meeting in Bulawayo had been cancelled. UPP had obtained
police clearance for their meeting set for today.
president Daniel Shumba confirmed the ban but vowed they would go
ahead with their meeting. But the police are not restricting their
operations to opposition parties.
snap survey by The Standard revealed that the police had imposed
an illegal curfew in Harareís political flashpoints.
have been arbitrary beatings of people in Epworth, Highfield, Kambuzuma,
Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Glen View and Glen Norah, under the cover of
police victim, Ndaba Maphosa of Highfield, covered in bruises all
over his body, said he was beaten up by the police on Wednesday
around 11:00 PM while on his way home from Speedy Sport Bar in the
Southerton area, where he had gone to watch a soccer match on television.
beat us up indiscriminately, accusing us of being MDC supporters.
It was a terrible moment," Maphosa said.
victim, Warren Sibanda (36) of Kambuzuma Section 3 said he was severely
assaulted by a group of police officers while on his way home from
a nearby bar.
so unreasonable. Itís as if we are back in the colonial days when
Ian Smithís forces could do anything with impunity," he said.
night club owners are now complaining of plunging sales as a direct
result of the police action.
Munyama of Fiyo Bar at Machipisa shopping centre said her sales
had dropped significantly since the police action started. She said
the police ordered them to close the sports bar around 8PM every
day although their licence allows them to open until late.
the imposition of a curfew and the ban on political rallies and
demonstrations are illegal under the Constitution, The Standard
Posa police can only impose a ban on political rallies and demonstrations
for a period of one month.
a section of POSA: " . . . he (police officer) may issue an
order prohibiting, for a specified period not exceeding oane month,
the holding of all public demonstrations or any class of public
demonstrations in the area or part thereof concerned."
director of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, Irene Petras said a three-month ban
terms of section 27 of Posa, the police are only entitled to impose
of a ban that does not exceed one month. What they are doing is
ridiculous," Petras said.
said before the police could impose a ban, they were required under
the law to advise the people affected and all interested parties
so that they could make their representations.
International Bar Associationís Human Rights Institute said the
ban breached the right to freedom of assembly protected by international
law and the countryís constitution.
about the legality of the ban, police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner
Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said he was uncertain on the issue. "I
will have to check on that.
any case, if the one month expires the police can still renew the
ban, if there is still need," he said.
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